Myth: After you’ve had the baby, you have to hide whatever tummy you have left.
Myth 2: You have to forget about your tummy.
Truth: There is a middle ground here too and even that depends on timing.
This question recently showed up on my social media feed: How do you hide a postpartum tummy? The answer is simple: you don’t.
From me, you get the truth.
The above myths are not entirely mythical. It really does depend on timing. However, no woman wants to appear pregnant when she actually is not pregnant, so she does have to dress correctly. The key is to remember that it’s never about hiding the tummy. Trying to hide a tummy (or any other body issue, for that matter) never actually succeeds. You only wind up appearing bigger than you are. No one wants that either.
For those first few weeks, you really do need to not worry about your tummy. You just gave birth and your body needs to heal. Let it. Focus on your health. Make sure you’re eating right and getting enough of the nutrients you need. While you shouldn’t do any heavy-duty exercise, you should still take advantage of unplanned exercise like walking. Getting out for some fresh air and a walk (a light, easy walk) will help you recover and feel better. Make time for whatever basic grooming you need, such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, and applying lip balm, light moisturizer, sunscreen, and any other lotions and potions. Make some extra time for showering and hair care.
At this immediate postpartum time, you mustn’t try to hide whatever tummy you have left. You can camouflage it the same way you did in the first trimester. Use the transitional clothes from that time as you need them. Do not wear maternity clothes; they’ll just make you appear huge. Try for the most fitted look you can get but keep it comfortably fitted; nothing too tight. Use accessories to draw attention to your face.
Once you’ve had your checkups and you know that your body is healing properly, you can take it a step further. At this point, your caregiver will likely have given you permission to get back to exercising as long as you take it slowly and carefully. Start making time for that. A lot of women who were avid walkers or joggers before pregnancy often enjoy taking their babies along in a stroller. If that works for you, go for it. If you prefer yoga or Pilates, make some time for that. I happen to love yoga because it’s low impact but gives me amazing results. If aerobics or kickboxing or Zumba is more your thing, go ahead and do them (slowly and carefully).
When it comes to clothes, here’s when you’ll want to start paying more attention. Structured tops and dresses are perfect because they’ll give you the shape you want. This is one more reason I love button-down shirts and shirtdresses: they’re inherently structured and give me a great shape. And they accommodate nursing. But even softer tops and dresses can work as long as there’s some structure and a good fit.
That part about fit is crucial. Don’t ever think that you can hide a tummy by wearing large tops. You’ll just appear bigger all over and you won’t actually hide anything. It sounds counterintuitive, but fitted clothes actually camouflage a tummy (and other body issues) better.
As always, use accessories creatively. Normally, I love long oblong scarves to camouflage the torso, but if you’re nursing, long scarves and necklaces get in the way, so save those for when you’re going out with your husband. Fun earrings are great and so are sturdy bracelets. Non-sheitel hair coverings like hats, berets, and mitpachot can also add pops of color and of course they’ll draw attention to your face. If you’re wearing hair, either your own or a sheitel, make sure it’s cared for properly and it’s in a style and color that flatter you. That way it can also frame your face and draw attention there.
Ultimately, the goal is to look and feel healthy and active. The right clothes and accessories will help you do just that. Feel good.